SPI Officials Use New Tech to Protect Spring Breakers

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SOUTH PADRE ISLAND – Authorities on South Padre Island are preparing for the first wave of spring breakers. Police are implementing new technology in their safety measures.

The police chief says over the next several weeks, approximately 60,000 people will be crossing the Queen Isabella Causeway heading to the island.

He tells CHANNEL 5 NEWS the police department is taking a few extra steps to keep everyone safe.

Scooter Nix just arrived at South Padre Island with some friends. He tells us he’s here to work and party during the next month.

“I know we hold safety as a concern when we’re out having a good time and all that we can hope is everyone that we are around has the same idea,” said Nix.

South Padre Island Police Chief Randy Smith says it’s his job to keep all the spring breakers safe.

He tells us new technology will help that cause. Officers are now trained to use three high flying drones.

“We can use it around crowds where there could be a problematic issue. The camera zooms in relatively far,” said Smith.

The chief adds that the drones can also come in handy when looking for a missing person in hard to reach locations on the island.

“Kind of rough and tough to get through with tall grass, mosquitoes and whatever else may lurk in there so it’s nice to be able to fly a drone over and be able to clear that area,” he said.

Their drone training just wrapped up last July. The department purchased the drones in 2016.

Smith tells us officers are also placing wireless cameras in predesignated problem areas.

“The good thing about them is with very little work we can move them if we need to, so if we start finding that there’s another place that’s more problematic and the camera will be a better service; with a little bit of IT’s time we can readjust and move those,” said the police chief.

He adds his department will be on the hunt for big parties on social media just like spring breakers.

“If we see a big house party that’s going to have multiple violations in advance and maybe we can shut it down before it even becomes an issue,” he said.

Smith says other departments across the Rio Grande Valley will also be sending officers to help out during busy weeks. Nix says he’s ready to have a great month.

The chief also asks all spring breakers to do their part. He recommends staying with friends at all times, especially after having several drinks.

Another feature officials are using will help keep criminals off the island.

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